The EU will do irrevocable damage to the development prospects of some of the smallest and poorest countries in the world unless it overhauls free trade deals due to be finalised this year, Oxfam said in a report yesterday.
New letters show extent of dissent among Pacific trade ministers as ministers accuse top EU trade official of being "domineering" and using divide and rule tactics to split the region.
A group of NGOs, trade unions and civil society groups have accused the EU of undermining global poverty reduction goals through its pursuit of free trade deals with African states.
The Caribbean region expects to sign a new trade agreement with the European Union by the end of June, Trinidad and Tobago’s trade and industry minister said on Tuesday.
African Union (AU) trade and finance ministers want the recently initialled trade deals between the European Union (EU) and African countries to be re-negotiated in the context of a comprehensible full agreement saying it has contentious issues.
The Pacific ACP Trade Ministers from the region have agreed to proceed as a group with negotiations of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the European Commission by the end of the year.
Ahead of another round of negotiations to conclude the economic partnership agreements with the European Union, civil society from East and Southern Africa meet in Kampala this week to take a common position on the remaining issues — services, agriculture, investment, competition and government procurement.
On his arrival at a Joint Parliamentary Assembly of EU and ACP countries in Slovenian capital Ljubljana this week, EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel was confronted with an array of parliamentarians and civil society activists carrying the message, ’Brussels-made EPAs will not fit ACPs’.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including farmers, workers, women, faith-based and students groups and organisations drawn from across Africa, have decried the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between Europe and the continent as another form of re-colonisation.
Continued opposition to new economic partnership agreements for Europe’s former colonies is too often based on "simplistic" arguments that are not acceptable, according to the European Commission. "I do not accept these excuses," says European Development Commissioner Louis Michel in an interview with EUX.TV. "If they really want to profit from globalization, they have no choice."
According to the latest information received, the ACP countries should be under pressure again this year to sign and provisionally implement EPAs before notification to the WTO could take place in order to avoid a challenge by other developing countries — this despite a legal opinion by a renowned WTO legal expert, Dr Lorand Bartels, that initialled interim EPAs could be notified to the WTO.
This South Centre Analytical Note overviews some of the main challenges that
ACP governments face now in the EPA negotiations and provides suggestions
regarding strategic options for the way forward.
A group of academics, while stopping short of labelling the trade pact an outright failure, are proposing that Cariforum renegotiate the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), saying it gives up too much to the Europeans in exchange for too little.
When Ministers of Caricom’s Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) meet in The Bahamas tomorrow, they are expected to consider the implications for this region of reservations expressed by Brazil at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being negotiated with the European Commission (EC).
The European Union has raised concerns about the speed at which African countries are moving towards negotiating for a comprehensive trade deal with Europe, which is expected to fast-track economic integration in the region ahead of the December deadline.
The economic partnership agreements (EPAs) currently being negotiated between Europe and its former colonies in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions are not about equal partnerships but about enabling "big giant Europe to gain better access to African markets".
Brazil has alleged that a clause in the EU’s recent trade agreements with several former colonies could discourage these countries, among the world’s poorest, from pursuing deeper trade integration with other developing nations.
The ACP Council of Ministers deplores the enormous pressure that has been brought to bear on the ACP States by the European Commission to initial the interim trade arrangements, contrary to the spirit of the ACP-EU partnership.
The EU foreign ministers today adopted a ruling which will allow virtually free access to their markets with effect from Jan 1, 2008 to products from 15 African, Caribbean and Pacific member countries which reached an interim trade agreement with the EU. However, twenty-seven ACP member nations, including 14 in the Caribbean, risk having an increase imposed on their customs tariffs from Jan 1.
World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia has told European Commissioner Peter Mandelson that the coercive approach adopted by the EU poisons the negotiating atmosphere and that the interim agreements are not consistent with development, poverty eradication and rights to food.